Posted on | March 6, 2016 | 32 Comments
In an impromptu exchange with reporters Saturday, South African President Jacob Zuma said modern women no longer know how to accept a compliment: “But when men compliment you innocently, you say it’s harassment. You will miss out on good men and marriage.” The opposition party Democratic Alliance was swift to condemn Zuma’s remark as “outrageously sexist and an insult to every single woman in our country, especially those who are survivors of violence and sexual abuse”:
It is precisely this patriarchal attitude that allows for women to remain the subjects of high levels of violence and sexual abuse throughout our country. It is also this sort of thinking that keeps women locked out of the economy, and out of jobs that could bring a much needed income to their family. . . .
South Africans must join the DA in rejecting this blatant sexism. The best way they can do this is to register for change this weekend.
This is change that will end sexism, create jobs, and build an inclusive South Africa for all her people, men and women alike.
How could President Zuma’s remarks about men complimenting women “innocently” be condemned as “blatant sexism” and a “patriarchal attitude”? Are his critics saying that men should never compliment women and that every time a man compliments a woman he is engaged in harassment? Apparently so, according to South African feminist writer Louise Ferreira.
“It’s not flattering. If you do this, you are a misogynist, a participant in rape culture, and a straight up a–hole,” Ferreira wrote on Twitter.
Ms. Ferreira, who describes herself as an “unapologetic queer socialist feminist,” went on a rant against Zuma as “a rampant misogynist,” saying compliments from men make women “feel uncomfortable, self-conscious and unsafe,” and categorically condemning male expressions of interest in women as “catcalling and street harassment.”
— FreeStacy (@Not_RSMcCain) March 6, 2016
— Louise Ferreira (@frrlou) February 28, 2016